Hi I’m back!
So first off in case you forgot I had a pretty busy August where I moved back to home to Manchester and then I went away to Cuba for 10 days. I’ve been back about a week now and now that all my other more urgent things (including sleep!) are pretty much sorted I thought I would take the time to share with you guys just how amazing Cuba is.
Right, so for those who geography isn’t their strong point Cuba is located in the Caribbean, in fact it is just south of Florida almost guarding the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico. It also happens to be the largest island in the Caribbean. For those of you who prefer a good map – this is where you will find Cuba so go ahead explore…
All done exploring? Great. Now you have a better idea just how close Cuba is to both Mexico and USA it’s pretty easy to see why the whole Cuban Missile crisis thing happened right? hmmm Ok, a little bit of history first then…
- October 28, 1492 – Christopher Columbus land’s on Cuba’s northeastern coast (near where Bariay is) and claims it for Spain
- 1511 – the first Spanish settlement was founded by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar at Baracoa.
- 1515 – Havana (now the Capitol) was founded.
- Like most natives of that time they found themselves enslaved. However by the 19th century the Cuban slaves had developed a practice known as ‘coartacion’ or ‘buying oneself out of slavery’.
- 1886 – slavery was abolished
- 1881 -José Martí moved to the United States and founded the Cuban Revolutionary party. There he mobilized the support of the Cuban exile community, especially in Ybor City (Tampa area) and Key West, Florida. His goal was revolution in order to achieve independence from Spain. Martí lobbied against the U.S. annexation of Cuba, which was desired by some politicians in both the US and Cuba
- Then began the War of Independence (1895-1898)
- May 19th 1895 – Jose Marti was killed in the Battle of Dos Rios which immortalised him as Cuba’s national hero.
- US Battleship Maine was sunk in Havana harbour and shortly after US declared war on Spain
- 1898 – US and Spain sign the Treaty of Paris where US gets Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam for US$20 million.
- May 20th 1902 – Cuba becomes independent from US and elect it’s first president in 1906.
- cheekily the US retained the right to intervene in the constitution and supervise is finances and foreign affairs, as well as leasing Guantanamo Bay.
- July 26th 1953 – failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago by Fidel Castro and supporters.
- 1956 – Fidel Castro landed from the yacht Granma from Mexico in an attempt to start a rebellion.
- 1959 – Castro’s fighter’s capture Santa Clara and the current president, Batista, flees
- 1959 -1966 – 6 year rebellion fought in the Escambray Mountains
- April 14th 1961 – Bay of Pigs invasions – basically US wanted to overthrow Castro using Cuban exiles. It failed.
- Cuba asks USSR to place some missiles in Cuba to stop US from harassing it
- 1962 – US started imposing more and more sanctions on Cuba including a military blockade to prevent further missiles being placed in Cuba leading to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- 1970’s – USSR helped out by subsiding food and oil etc
- Then the Soviet Union collapsed and left Cuba in Poverty, but even then they didn’t accept aid from the US. They have however found a new source of aid in China.
- 2008 – Fidel Castro retired and his brother Raul took over.
And now it looks like relations with America are getting friendlier by the minute.
So that was a brief history of Cuba but if you want anymore there are plenty of books and information on the internet for you to sink your teeth into!
Anyway back to the holiday.
So we flew into La Habana (or Havana) where we would be staying for 3 nights. And as with any hot country were immediately hit with that hot, humid cuban air. Now we were warned to take some water with us for baggage collection as everyone works on ‘cuban time’ which basically means it’s not going to happen very quickly. However 2 hours was just a joke.
Thankfully it was only a 30min, air-conditioned transfer to our hotel, Telegrafo. Which, by the way was a hotel with some great character – and in a good way I’m not being sarcastic (for a change).
It was like stepping back in time, well the whole of Cuba generally is like that to be honest. But with it’s high ceilings and colonial decor, you kinda felt like you were in some kind of film.
Ok so I’ve just noticed that this post is getting rather long so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to end this one here and start a new post where I promise I will tell you all about old Havana, the Revolution museum, our trip in a 55 Chevrolet to the Tropicana club of and our near miss with Madonna.
You can find it here.
until then keep adventuring!